Just call me Mister Gunn……….

“Mister” Colin Gunn, who demands respect when spoken to

 

In yet another depressing sign of the times Colin Gunn, a self-styled gangster who epitomises the worst of the UK’s chav generation has won an important victory for prisoners seeking respect from within the walls of the prison establishment.

As the Sunday Times reported at the weekend, Gunn has now won the right to be called by the title he wishes after a battle with the prison authorities at Whitemoor HMP. Gunn revealed his victory in a letter published in this month’s issue of the prison inmates newspaper Inside Times.
I raise this issue because I have written at length about the misery that Gunn and his cohorts brought to the people of Nottingham and beyond. There is nothing wrong with the idea that prisoners should be addressed in a formal manner; a civilised society should not seek to treat inmates as animals if there is any hope of rehabilitating them from the wrong road they have taken. What is wrong here is that Gunn has been afforded some kind of respectful status in the face of some truly brutal crimes for which he is rightly facing a 35-year tariff. I make no mention of other crimes he hasn’t been convicted of which currently lie in the dusty shelves of detectives trays marked “case unsolved”.
Surely until we start treating the victims of crime with the respect that they deserve, the human rights concerns of the likes of Colin Gunn should be pushed to the back of the queue. Colin Gunn is clearly revelling in this latest burst of publicity because he thinks he has got one over on the system that he is constantly seeking to pervert. His idea of a just world is one where might is right and the mob rules and where he is considered as a role model for others…that seems to me a recipe for the end of civilised society.

A wake up call for witness protection……

Today’s news that Coroner and QC Karon Monaghan  has called for a review of the the UK’s witness protection services has been a long time coming and is long overdue. If nothing else, Hoods , illustrated just what happens when there is no continuity or depth in the witness protection framework to deal with the real threats that organised crime poses to those ordinary people who speak out against its pernicious reach. It is a tragedy of appalling proportions that it has taken the brutal deaths of two pensioners to reach this stage but as is so often the case, it takes something of that nature to shake us out of the complacency that had been allowed to build up over this area of policing. Joan and John Stirland really did deserve better treatment and there will be individuals and corporate entitities who will never be able to wash the blood from their hands over the Stirlands deaths. There is no doubt in my mind that consideration must be given to a national body set up to deal with witness protection which is independent of local police forces and this should be a fully funded body which can deal with the huge expense and strain on resources which witness protection inevitably creates. As matters currently stand there are people who would be willing to turn their lives upside down and give evidence against major criminals if they had faith in the system. There is very little faith in the current system and the deaths of the Stirlands has magnified that lack of faith. Nobody wants to see the spectre of criminal trials collapsing against the some of the most dangerous villains simply because witnesses do not feel safe but that has become an increasingly common situation in the UK. It will be interesting to see the responses of ACPO and local police forces to this issue, but the Ministry of Justice and the Crown Prosecution also need to have an input into this debate. We saw on the streets of Nottingham how urban terrorism, threats and fear have taken their toll on some of the city’s population and unless we have the systems in place to reassure those who need our protection, it will be a story coming to a city near you soon.

The age of organised crime is upon us…..

Earlier this week the Met’s chief Sir Paul Stephenson indicated that dealing with organised crime was the biggest challenge that would face the UK’s law enforcement agencies in the coming years . He rightly raised concerns about how, in the current economic climate, police forces and the criminal justice system – faced with making huge budget cuts – would be able to meet the challenges of organised crime. The public could be forgiven for thinking that the agency specifically charged with combating the problem the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) , now in its fifth year, is on top of the problem. 
In fact SOCA is only dealing with the top tier of criminals and most of the middle and lower tier criminal gangs which are operating now out of Britain’s housing and industrial estates fall under the radar of SOCA. As a result these gangs are being left to grow perniciously because the specialist units which local police forces have to deal with them are few and far between. More than that these specialist units are the very ones that may be at risk when the current round of budget cuts being considered by all police authorities come into play. In Nottinghamshire it was this very scenario – the dismantling of its major crime unit and drugs squad, in 2000/2001 – which contributed to the rise in power of gangsters such as Colin Gunn from the city’s Bestwood estate. In today’s Telegraph there is a further warning about how organised crime is being imported imported and yet this is a problem that has been festering for some years; staring the politicians in the face. Perhaps a way forward would be for police forces which share geographical county borders to pool their resources into regional specialist units to tackle organised crime such as the East Midlands Special Operations Unit which uses the resources of five police forces to tackle organised crime and middle tier drugs dealers. Ultimately it will be for the politicians to decide where the axe falls on the ever thinning blue line, but if Sir Paul Stephenson is correct the UK could be in for a rocky ride ahead with the economic conditions giving rise to more wannabe Tony Sopranos than it can handle.